Quentin Tarantino’s ‘Pulp Fiction’ on Max

Pulp Fiction (1994), Quentin Tarantino’s playful quartet of overlapping stories, mixes American film noir, the French New Wave, and a post-modern sensibility to create a movie-movie for the 90s.

John Travolta (in a career-reviving turn) and Samuel Jackson provide a kind of through line pulling the episodes together as Vincent and Jules, a pair of fun-loving hit-men. They wander through the urban crime landscape with easy style, trading shaggy stories and off-kilter insights through the course of a job that takes more than a few unexpected turns. One of those involves babysitting Mia (Uma Thurman), the flirtatious wife of his boss, mobster Marsellus Wallace (Ving Rhames, all ropy muscle tensed to a vengeful pitch),

In one chapter, doughy fighter Butch Coolidge (Bruce Willis) double crosses a fight fixer but blows his getaway to recover a keepsake and ends up in an urban dungeon with Marsellus. In another, Vincent and Jules take a detour to see The Wolf (Harvey Keitel), a mob “cleaner” who specializes in making inconvenient corpses disappear.

It’s a terrific cast; Tarantino established a reputation for juicy dialogue and meaty characters in his debut feature, Reservoir Dogs, and actors were lining up for his sophomore effort. Maria de Medeiros, Christopher Walken, Tim Roth, Amanda Plummer, Rosanna Arquette, Frank Whaley, and Quentin Tarantino himself are among those filling out parts large and small in the ensemble cast.



Pulp Fiction is a film that twists and turns and double backs on itself with the sheer delight of a narrative magician. Tarantino tosses off quotable dialogue like confetti and fills the film with playful pop-culture references, shaggy dog stories, dark humor, and punctuations of bizarre violence, mixing the classic with the kitschy in a way that appreciates both.

It earned Tarantino the Palme d’Or at Cannes and an Oscar for best screenplay (shared with cowriter and former video store buddy Roger Avery) and nominations for best director and best picture, while actors Travolta, Jackson, and Thurman all earned nominations for their performances.

Pulp Fiction also won two BAFTAs (for director and supporting actor Jackson), four Film Independent Spirit Awards (including best picture, director, and screenplay) and numerous best picture picks from critics groups around the country, including the National Society of Film Critics. It was added to the National Film Registry in 2013.

Rated R

Also on Blu-ray and DVD and on SVOD through Amazon Video and/or other services. Availability may vary by service.
Pulp Fiction [Blu-ray]
Pulp Fiction [4K UHD + Blu-ray]
Pulp Fiction [DVD]

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The Blu-ray and DVD special edition releases include the documentary featurette “Pulp Fiction: The Facts” (with interviews collected over eight years), a production design featurette, behind-the-scenes montages from two scenes, a 24-minute collection of deleted and alternate scenes hosted by director Quentin Tarantino, additional TV interviews, and more.

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Sean Axmaker is a Seattle film critic and writer. He writes the weekly newspaper column Stream On Demand and the companion website, and his work appears at RogerEbert.com, Turner Classic Movies online, The Film Noir Foundation, and Parallax View.

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